August 30, 2012
First, I'd like to say thank you to the many people across NOS who helped prepare for and are responding to the impact of Hurricane Isaac. At the time of this email, we are in the process of accounting for all NOS staff members who live and work in the affected area even as these dedicated individuals are undertaking response activities. Unfortunately, there will likely be continued damage from the storm as it moves inland. I appreciate the commitment of all NOS employees who are dedicated to helping communities get ready for and recover after these kinds of storms, and I am proud of the work we do.
I returned this week after a very productive trip to Alaska and Washington. A focal point of the trip was participating in the Arctic Imperative Summit last week. The summit brought together business leaders; state, local, and federal partners; and residents from Alaska's coastal communities to discuss the impacts of the dramatic changes that the Arctic is undergoing. I also joined NOAA Principal Deputy Under Secretary Margaret Spring for meetings with regional leaders from the U.S. Department of the Interior, officials from the Port of Anchorage, Sen. Mark Begich, and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell. Additionally, the National Weather Service briefed us on sea ice forecasting and we toured the Tsunami Warning Center.
The topics discussed during these meetings were far-reaching, but they had a central theme: Alaska is facing change, and NOS products and services are crucial in helping the state adapt. NOS's role runs the entire gamut of our expertise, from observations to management. We are tracking marine debris from the Japanese tsunami, partnering with the state to manage the Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, conducting research at the Kasitsna Bay Lab, working closely with our partners at the Alaska Ocean Observing System, conducting shoreline surveys, collecting gravity data that covers hundreds of thousands of square kilometers, and finishing up a 30-day hydrographic reconnaissance survey. And that's just a snapshot of our activities.
Following the trip to Alaska, I visited folks in the Office of Response and Restoration at their offices at Sand Point in Seattle, Wash. It was great to hear firsthand about the team's efforts in responding to marine debris from the Japanese tsunami and to participate in a briefing about the Arctic Environmental Response Management Application®.
I know that planning and executing these visits takes a tremendous amount of time from a number of people. I'd like to thank everyone who made this such a productive trip.
National Ocean Science
This week, the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) issued the
Storm QuickLook product for Hurricane Isaac. This product provides an integrated display of near real-time oceanographic and meteorological observations at locations affected by the tropical cyclone. CO-OPS began issuing the Storm QuickLook product when then Tropical Storm Isaac was forecast to impact Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands on August 22. The product continues to be updated every six hours, approximately one hour following the latest full National Hurricane Center public advisory, until all tropical storm and hurricane warnings are cancelled along the Gulf coast and water levels begin to return to normal. For more information, contact Paul Fanelli.
The Office of Coast Survey (OCS) is prepared to hit the water surveying after Hurricane Isaac moves away from sea traffic lanes and port areas, and as soon as the water settles enough to allow use of hydrographic sonar equipment to search for underwater debris and shoaling. Navigation managers in Alabama and Louisiana have been coordinating response assets and capabilities with state and port officials, and with the U.S. Coast Guard, since early this week. OCS moved three of the navigation response teams from their normal survey operations in Florida and Texas to pre-position closer to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, where they will likely need to conduct emergency surveys. Additionally, OCS's Mobile Integrated Survey Team (MIST) remains ready to move as necessary. When called to action, the MIST will mobilize on a vessel of opportunity. For more information, contact CPT Jon Swallow.
A new underwater robotic vehicle is collecting important data along the Gulf Coast today, due to a partnership among Shell Oil Company, the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System, and NOAA's National Data Buoy Center (NDBC). Scientists recently launched an iRobot Seaglider approximately 15 miles east of Shell's Auger platform. The glider collects temperature, salinity, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, dissolved organic matter, pressure, turbidity, chlorophyll, and backscatter down to 1,000 meters in various parts of the northern Gulf of Mexico. NDBC pilots the Shell glider and has collected more than 250 profiles of data. The profiling glider increases the value of data collected and provides the ability to direct the glider to areas of interest, rather than collect data from a single site near shore. For more information, contact Scott Kuester.
From Aug. 26-Sept. 6, a Schmidt Ocean Institute Fellow and National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) researcher is serving as chief scientist aboard the R/V Falkor, owned by the institute, as part of sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico for this new vessel and its equipment. Researchers and crew will employ the Global Explorer MK3 remotely operated vehicle and its state-of-the-art 3-D video and biological sampling technology to look for deep-sea corals as deep as 2,000 meters below the waves. This cruise represents a milestone in the partnership between NCCOS and the institute, an ocean exploration foundation established by former Google CEO Dr. Eric Schmidt. For more information, contact Peter Etnoyer.
The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management recently approved a new inland boundary for the Louisiana Coastal Management Program after the state legislature revised the boundary based on results of a two-year study. The new coastal zone boundary incorporates a net increase of 1,887 additional square miles, about a 12.6 percent increase. The state was concerned that the original boundary, established in 1978, did not include all wetlands under coastal influence, that water quality in the coastal zone can be significantly affected by activities occurring outside the coastal zone, and that the coastline has changed significantly since the boundary was established. The boundary change enhances state management of coastal resources, reduces impacts of coastal hazards and wetland alteration through permit review of development proposals, and simplifies review of federal activities through the state's federal consistency authority under the Coastal Zone Management Act. For more information, contact Josh Lott.
The National Geodetic Survey (NGS) will return to Yellowstone National Park for the fourth consecutive year to perform GPS and absolute gravity measurements in support of a research study conducted in collaboration with the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the University of Luxembourg. The study seeks to use gravity change and GPS uplift rates to help resolve which of several mechanisms is responsible for uplift and inflation of the volcano. Mechanisms under consideration for the ongoing uplift are the intrusion of magma into the underlying crust, or by the release of trapped pressurized water and gas (i.e., to volumetric expansion), or by other mechanisms not yet considered. For more information, contact Tim Wilkins.
On August 23, NOAA hosted the Federal Urban Waters Partnership (FUWP) in Silver Spring. This partnership reconnects urban communities, particularly those that are overburdened or economically distressed, with their waterways by improving coordination among federal agencies and collaborating with community-led revitalization efforts to improve our nation's water systems and promote their economic, environmental, and social benefits. The actions of FUWP are now aligned with the America's Great Outdoors Initiative, a Presidential Initiative designed to foster conservation and restoration along the rural-to-urban land gradient and within urban areas and watersheds. The major agenda item was to review and agree to recommendations for new locations to be added to the Partnership. For more information, contact Simeon Hahn.
Digital Coast Connections, a monthly e-newsletter that debuted August 17, keeps coastal officials, managers, and other constituents informed about new data, imagery, tools, and trainings from the Digital Coast Partnership and NOAA Coastal Services Center. Subscriptions can be obtained online. For more information, contact Donna McCaskill.
From July 29-Aug. 14, a team of University of Hawaii divers, led by staff from
NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Maritime Heritage Program, conducted an investigation of a 99-year-old shipwreck at Mahukona Harbor on the island of Hawaii. The team camped at Kawaihae and spent two weeks diving and surveying the wreck of the SS Kauai, a 150-foot steamship built in 1887 that serviced island plantations and coastal communities for almost 20 years. The vessel was lost on Dec. 24, 1913, when it was driven onto the rocks in a Kona storm. The two-week hands-on course in maritime archaeology provided opportunities to monitor a historic wreck site and train divers in underwater surveying methods, and satisfied all requirements for the Nautical Archaeology Society introduction and part one certificate, an internationally recognized standard. For more information, contact Hans Van Tilburg.